Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between a Method Statement and a Risk Assessment

Method statement and risk assessment are two of the most important health and safety documents that play a crucial role in workplace safety and project planning. Both documents are used in a wide range of industries, primarily in construction, engineering, and project management. They serve the purpose of enhancing safety and efficiency. While method statements focus on how to do the job, risk assessments concentrate on potential dangers and their management.

But what exactly are they, and why do they matter? In this article, we’ll explore the fundamental differences between method statements and risk assessments, shedding light on their importance and distinct purposes.

What is a Method Statement?

A method statement is a detailed document that outlines the step-by-step procedures and techniques to execute a specific task or project. They are used to ensure that work is carried out in a systematic, safe, and efficient manner. Method statements are a pre-requisite for any construction project. They provide a detailed layout and procedure for how each element comprising the project will be constructed.

Method statements help workers understand the process, equipment, and materials required for a task. They are essential to maintain safety and quality standards on construction sites and other work environments.

What is a Risk Assessment?

A risk assessment is a process used to identify potential hazards and evaluate the associated risks in a given task or project. It’s intimately linked with method statements. Risk assessments are used to determine the likelihood of accidents or harm and to establish measures for risk mitigation. They help organizations prioritize safety measures and allocate resources effectively to create a safer work environment.

The primary purpose of risk assessments is to identify and mitigate potential hazards in the workplace. Many countries have regulations that mandate risk assessments for businesses. Compliance with these regulations is a legal requirement. Failing to conduct risk assessments can lead to fines and legal consequences.

Difference between Method Statement and Risk Assessment


The primary purpose of a method statement is to provide a detailed, step-by-step procedure for executing a specific task or project. It focuses on how the work will be done safely and efficiently. A risk assessment is done to identify and evaluate potential hazards and risks associated with a task or project. It aims to determine the likelihood and severity of these risks.


A method statement typically includes information on the sequence of tasks, tools and equipment required, personnel responsibilities, and safety precautions during task execution. A risk assessment, on the other hand, includes an analysis of potential hazards, their consequences, and the control measures to mitigate or eliminate these risks. This often involves assessing factors like the environment, equipment, and human factors.


Method statements are task-specific and provide detailed instructions for a particular activity. They don’t focus on broader risk identification and management. Risk assessments, on the contrary, are broader in scope and assess risks across a range of activities or a project. They’re not limited to a specific task and look at overall risk management.


Typically, method statements are developed after the risk assessment. They are based on the findings of the risk assessment and detail how the work will be carried out safely. Risk assessments are usually conducted before the method statement. They lay the foundation for understanding the risks involved in a project or task.


A method statement is primarily intended for the individuals who will be directly involved in the task, such as workers and supervisors. It provides them with practical guidance on how to perform the work. A risk assessment, on the other hand, is often shared with a wider audience, including managers, safety professionals, and regulators. It helps in making decisions about risk management strategies and resource allocation.

Method Statement vs. Risk Assessment: Comparison Chart


In a nutshell, method statements focus on the “how” of a task, providing detailed instructions for execution, while risk assessments concentrate on the “what if” by identifying potential hazards and assessing their risks to ensure a safe working environment. Both documents are essential to ensuring safety and efficiency in various industries.


What is the purpose of risk assessments and method statements?

The purpose of a risk assessment is to identify potential hazards and evaluate the associated risks in a specific task, project, or work environment. A method statement focuses on how the work will be done and outlines responsibilities, tools, and safety precautions.

What is the difference between assessment and method?

“Assessment” is a broader term that involves evaluating, analyzing, or appraising something, such as risks, performance, or a situation. A “method” refers to a specific way or procedure for accomplishing a task, which may involve a sequence of actions or steps.

What is the difference between a safety statement and a method statement?

A “safety statement” typically refers to a document that outlines an organization’s commitment to safety, its safety policies, and its approach to managing safety in the workplace. A “method statement” is a specific document that provides detailed instructions on how to carry out a particular task or project safely. While both are related to safety, they serve different purposes.

What is another name for a method statement?

A method statement may also be referred to as a “Safe Work Method Statement” (SWMS) or a “Work Method Statement” (WMS). These terms are often used interchangeably.

Is a method statement a risk assessment?

No, a method statement is not a risk assessment. They are two separate documents with distinct purposes.

What is the purpose of a method statement?

The purpose of a method statement is to ensure that a specific task or project is executed in a systematic, safe, and efficient manner.

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References :

[0]Hughes, Phil, and Ed Ferrett. Introduction to Health and Safety in Construction. Routledge, 2008.

[1]Lingard, Helen, and Stephen M. Rowlinson. Occupational Health and Safety in Construction Project Management. Taylor and Francis, 2005.

[2]Lyon, Bruce K., et al. Risk Assessment: A Practical Guide to Assessing Operational Risks. John Wiley and Sons, 2022.

[3]Image credit: https://www.canva.com/photos/MADzte3_R90-employee-meeting-broker-estate-agent/

[4]Image credit: https://www.canva.com/photos/MAEvuV44q00-business-satisfaction-assessment-documents-competency-rating-using-a-check-mark/

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